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Blog : The Liked Manager


The Liked Manager

by Phil Clarkson, learnpurple Associate

Throughout my career I have met, developed and worked with thousands of managers from all types of organisations. Many have inspired me, however there are some who left no impression on me; as a result I have simply forgotten them.  It’s from these that I learnt a key lesson – no manager can work alone.

To be successful you have to have the support of those who work for and with you.  Building an excellent reputation with your people certainly brings rewards. People are more likely to respect those that they like and are more willing to try new things. It has been proven time and again that managers who are liked by their people are more successful and find achieving their objectives less challenging. 

With the stress and pressure put on managers in this current economic climate, it’s important to remember that just getting the job done and not considering the effect you have on people will not serve you well in the long term.

The relationship that is built between manager and team is a critical factor in the success of any organisation. The retention of talented people is often hampered simply because of a ‘lack of like’. The trick here is to lead from the front and ensure you evoke an atmosphere in which ‘like’ can thrive. There is an equation that says it all, “happy energetic managers equal happy energetic workplace.”

There is a fine line that needs to be drawn. Good management should never be a popularity contest. Being a liked manager usually comes down to the management skill of communication: knowing who your people actually are, maintaining clear expectations and having them working to their strengths. With this formula in place you will maintain a good relationship.

There are times when a manager has to make some difficult decisions where not everyone will agree. Liked managers have taken the time to earn the respect of the majority of the employees, this powerful tool ensures they will follow your lead regardless if they totally agree or not.

If your people were describing your management style; would they say you care about your people and have good interaction skills with them? Could they say you let them know what is expected of them? Are they likely to say you can identify individual strengths and utilise them? Most of all would they say you are great with feedback… Can you recognise a job well done, celebrate mistakes and learn from them?

A very effective exercise I often use with managers to help them see themselves from others points of view is the ‘Impressions’ game.

1.            Use a sticky note or small card and write down three words that describe how you want to be seen or talked about by others, e.g.:

·        Professional

·        Approachable

·        Caring

It is important the words are right for you and your job role.

2.            Keep the card to yourself; do not share the words... yet.

3.            Go and have some normal business conversations with people who are important to you, include the ones you don’t always see eye to eye with.

4.            At the end of the conversation ask “how do I appear to you?” or “how would you describe me in three words?” (Don’t worry this is not a speed dating exercise)

5.            Compare the feedback to the words you have on your card. (Can be done on your own or at the time of the feedback)

6.            Analyse how many of your words actually came back to you in the feedback.

If you got all 3 well done - as long as they were positive words of course!

If you did not get your words back; this suggests you have a little work to do to get people to see you as you would like to be seen.

Some managers I have worked with still carry their card to remind them what they are trying to achieve in terms of their personal reputation whilst getting the job done.

Being the best manager you can be is the key to being inspirational to your people and ensuring key talent stays with your organisation.

Which manager is inspirational to your people? How does your organisation retain the best talent?

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